Somali Region




Ethiopia is located in the eastern part of Africa neighbouring the Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. It is the third largest country in Sub-Saharan Africa with a total area of 1.13 million sq km. and estimated population of 80 million. Although the country is a potentially rich country, majority of its people both in urban and rural areas live in absolute poverty caused by natural and manmade calamities exacerbated by long years of internal and external conflicts.

After identifying poverty as the root cause of the countrys socio – political and economic problems, the Ethiopian government has been working intensively on poverty alleviation program since the downfall of the Dergs regime in the early 1990s. Many national and international Non Governmental Organizations operating in the country have also shifted from relief and rehabilitation programs to integrated development activities to contribute their share in the governments effort to eradicate poverty and change the status of the country from rock bottom poor country to a medium income country by the year 2015 and fulfil the national millennium development goals.

The end of the cold war has brought with it drastic changes in donor receipt relationships. The conditions for receiving aid have now changed from mere selection of communist or capitalist ideology during the cold war to democratization process, free market economy, environmental protection, human rights, rule of law, and many more. Aid recipient countries are also expected to pay particular attention to sustainability of their development programs and operate in line with their short term and long-term comprehensive Action development plans.

 Location of the Somali region: Eastern part of Ethiopia, and one of the 9 states of Ethiopian federation

Capital: Jigjiga

Chief administrator of the Somali region ( 2010- ): Mr Abdi mahamud omer as the president. The region also has independent administration under the federal democratic republic of Ethiopia and has parliament and cabinet members which is decentralized to zone, district and at village level.

Area: 271,970.91 square km-second in Ethiopia, next to Oromia regional state

Topography: 500-1600 meters above sea level

Climate: warm, hot and arid

Population: 4.5-5 million

Working language: Somali

Distance from Addis Ababa to Jijiga: 635k.m

Zones and districts: 9 zones and 52 districts

The Somali Region is one of nine regions of the Federal democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Also known as the Ogaden after the dominant clan in the region and located in the eastern Ethiopian lowlands bordering Djibouti, Somalia (including Somaliland) and Kenya, the region is almost entirely inhabited by people of Somali ethnicity (95.6 per cent according to Ethiopias Central Statistics Agency). They speak a common language-Somali, have common religion-Islam, and share a rich cultural heritage that spans Somalis living in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.

Ethiopias Central Statistics Agency estimated the regions population at just over 4.5million in 2007 (with a high sex ratio of 120 males to 100 females), though some consider that an underestimate, as a proper census has not been conducted for over a decade and population growth is rapid. Somalis are either the third or fourth largest ethnic group in Ethiopia.

 Recent History and Governance


The region has a troubled history of poverty and strife. Two wars have been fought between Ethiopia and Somalia over the land, in 1964 and 1977-78.The region is littered with remnants of those wars, including dilapidated military equipment and rusted weaponry.

After the overthrow of the Soviet-backed Derg regime in 1991, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) ushered in the system of ethnic confederation with the ostensible intent to give greater autonomy to ethnic communities to manage their affairs. The EPRDF remains in power under Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, whose government was re-elected in this year 2010. With the adoption of federalism, the Somali Regional State came into existence. Headquartered first in Gode and then in Jijiga since 1995, the regional government has endured substantial political turmoil and turnover and has struggled at times to gain legitimacy, as the administrations implementation capacities are extremely limited. The region is divided into nine zones, which are sub-divided into 52 Weredas (districts) and hundreds of Kebeles (one Kebele (village) is usually equivalent to one community occupied by one sub clan). Local government institutions exert limited authority at the Wereda and Kebele levels; by all accounts, the real power at the local level lies with the clans.


Living Standards and Livelihoods


The Somali Region is among the very poorest regions in Ethiopia. Reliable data on living Standards is extremely difficult to come; nevertheless, we have got the following data from the Somali regional strategic plan prepared by bureau of finance and economic development (BOFED)

Education level

  • The growth enrolment rate (GER) of the pre-primary school is only 1.45% (1.37% for male and 1.55% for female).
  • primary gross enrolment(GER) as a proportion of the official school age population (Age 7-14) is 63.8% in 2002 EC (2009/10) which is below the National average of 85.0%.
  • The secondary gross enrolment is only 12.5% which is also below the National average of 35.0 %.
  • Pupil/textbook ratio is 3:1
  • The achievement of students at grade 8 is very low in that 29.5% (28.7% male & 31.7% female) of 2001 (2008/09) of grade national examination dropped and were not successful to be promoted to grade 9
  • adult literacy rate is currently only 7.96 % (4.61 of women & 10.75 % of men) compared with the national average of 41.0%, were as total Literacy in the region was estimated at 45 percent in 2009.
  • Among the total primary school-age (Age 7-14) children, 10-20% is estimated to be children with special needs which are not given much attention in all education system of the region.
  • High dropout and high repetition rate specially girls.

Pure drinking water:

The current safe water supply coverage is estimated to be around 44% with 1,980,000 beneficiaries.

- Less than 10 per cent of the population gets drinking water from their own tap and less than 30 percent gets water from a protected well or spring.

Health sector

  • The Crude Death Rate of the region is estimated to be 9.80 per 1000 population.
  • Life expectancy at birth (LEB) of males and females is 58.7 years and 55.4 years respectively, while it is 53.4 and 55.4 at national level.
  • The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is estimated at 27.0 per 1000 LB while the Child Mortality Rate (CMR) is 93 deaths per 1000 LB.
  • The maternal mortality (MMR) rate is estimated at 672 per 100 000 live births.
  • The potential service coverage for health posts and health centers in Somali region are estimated 71% and 73% respectively.
  • Contraceptive prevalence rate of the region is estimated at 7%.
  • Antenatal care coverage is 30%
  • delivery attended by skilled birth attendants is 13%
  • The HIV prevalence rate of the region is estimated 0.9%

Agriculture and livestock development:

  • Livestock health coverage is 50.6 percent, with the livestock population per veterinarian and per clinic being 10,760.6 and 738,781 head respectively.
  • The population of livestock per animal health post is similarly 82,660 animals
  • Of the total 160,500 hectares under crop production currently in the Region, 110,500 hectares (70%) is under rain-fed cultivation and the remaining 50,000 hectares (30%) under irrigation.
  • increasing frequency of droughts, leading to loss of assets, production and income and increasing acute and chronic food insecurity
  • Severe land degradation, worsened by population growth, land competition driven by political and food aid pursuits. This contributes to limiting productivity.
  • Absence of rural credit facilities and lack of access to financial institutions in most parts of the Region.
  • shortage of skilled human resource, funding and agricultural inputs, leading to shortfalls in resources required to address the needs of the sector

The Somalis in Somali region are traditionally nomadic pastoralists, and have been so for centuries. Life and survival revolves around livestock, with people constantly moving about in the interests of their livestock. Where I make a living, there is my home, says a popular Somali proverb. Being a plentiful livestock owner is a show of wealth and prosperity and connotes high social status, whereas farmers have often been viewed as inferior and poor people. Pastoralists traditionally move their herds around sizable areas in search of water and grazing land, often moving with their families and clan members. Until recently there were relatively lucrative markets for livestock accessible to pastoralists, primarily in the Arabian Gulf states, which meant transporting the animals through Djibouti, Somaliland or Somalia. However, as discussed below, drought and regulation have substantially limited access to these markets, contributing to the gradual shift towards agro-pastoralist activities.

Given the dominance of pastoralist and now agro-pastoralist activities, individuals and communities are extremely dependent on rainfall. There are two primary rainy seasons throughout most of the region, the gu (long rainy season) from March to May, and the dayr (Short rainy season), from October to December. During these rainy seasons people make every effort to collect water in wells and storage containers for their family and animals to consume during the dry season. But over the past two decades these rains have become increasingly unreliable; there were major droughts in 1984-85, 1994 and 1999-2000 (during which pastoralists claim to have lost 70-90 per cent of their cattle). The region recently experienced what some elders call the worst drought ever, and the international community is rallying to respond. However, UN notes that the defining characteristic of rainfall in Somali region is its variability from year to year and there is no evidence that the recent sequence of localized droughts represents a permanent decline in average rainfall.

Therefore, NGOs should focus their activities at contributing to the countrys development endeavours than relief assistance and handouts. To do that they are expected to have a clearly designed Action and action plans showing where the organization is going over in one or more years, how it is going to get there and how it will know if it got there or not. A well-formulated action plan helps the organization to know where it is now, what it wants to achieve in the future and how to reach there. To provide appropriate solutions to these and similar questions, SAAD-Ethiopia has designed strategic plan sustainable and integrated Action development plan in line with the governments Action development plan.

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